<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d28321538\x26blogName\x3dLIVE+AFRICA\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dBLUE\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttp://liveafrica.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_GB\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://liveafrica.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d-3134666148448149571', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>
    LIVE AFRICA
    In 2006
    Ghana,
    Benin,
    Togo,
    Ivory Coast

    In 2007
    Saudi,

    In 2009
    Tanzania,
    Kenya,
    Uganda,

    In 2010
    Saudi again!,

    email:liveafrica@hotmail.com
Name:
Location: Saudi Arabia
    www.flickr.com

Network Infrastructure and Rollout. Fancy climbing this ladder!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Tamale to Benin and back to Accra

The rain when it rains hits hard...on the road to Tamale airport the heavens opened delaying the flight to Accra by 2 hours..

What a change to the the clouds just the day before. We had a minister on the plane and several Unicef officials. The region has "food security" problems during the dry season around Dec/Jan. I met the country representative for OIC International and spoke at length of the education and support an organisation can do for this region.

Anyway, down here for 2 nights and this morning (Sun) it's 7:00am and a team of us are preparing to drive in convoy to Benin to set up the Cotonou office. Yes and back tomorrow for me - driving is the only way, about 7 hours with border crossings....it's raining too! so a slower drive....

Friday, July 28, 2006

Obroni! Obrini! - (White Man)

The lasting impression is the children. Wherever I went, they would walk towards me a little inquisitive then interested, and when I responded, we were instant friends.

Northern Ghana has proved the most friendly so far, not that central and south has not, on the contrary everyone breaks into the amazing bright Ghana smile at the first chance.

The roads have been unique compacted fine sandy fill material that leaves a trail high in the air. When we followed our guides vehicle, he drove on the oncoming side of the road and we on the correct side, so the dust clouds didn't blind us.

A beautful country...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Northern Region...48 hours and 35 Deg C ...at Internet Cafe tonight

Spent 4 hours in the car this evening, driving...it felt like I was in a Dukes of Hazard movie...sorry no photos I'm 250km north of Accra in Kumasi in the Ashanti region..will add them to Flickr when I get back. Tomorrow at 6.30am another 350km north to Tamale for site surveys with the engineers.

Driving in the dark here is incredible, the cars are wrecks by day, by night they are ships of death, we were passed by a VW Jetta with it's whole front end smashed (NO Lights) about a foot into the front...what was scary was that when darkness fell we caught back up with the car in the dark! No headlights! No white lines in the road, no street lighting (the country is near jungle left and right of the road) No cats eyes! and histeriacally the car is still hard to catch in the black of night....so we flashed him, he moved over and we led him to Kumasi...I'm still laughing at the "No fear" factor of the driver and passengers. Who gave him the temporary registration plates from Ghana DVLA that's what I want to know.... anyway...made it safe and ready to sleep after bouncing all the way here!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Residence Process.....

As part of the process to become a person with "resident" status I need to have a "criminal record check" and a Medical. So off I went to the central police station, a bit on edge since this is where the "Police" are, they tend to be very sensitive and intolerant - just my personal experience when I have met some of them. The only way I have compensated is to be really really polite....

...well the process goes like this, through the barred doors, down the narrow corridor with bars on the windows which line the route, then left at the end into a room laid out so randomly I had no clue what to do...so over to the table, no not here, pay your money, so I go to the cashier a man sitting high up through the railings and I explain I'm here for a residency criminal record check.

He asks "passport!" "ok, so you're British. Oh so your family really" he grins with a great big smile and puts out his hand, so I put mine through the grill and stretch to shake on it...
I replied, "So does that mean my check is passed!" cheeky I know, but I find the humour works a lot....

He grins and from there the whole process goes really well, I even got pushed through the queue (I felt a bit guilty..but hey! they told me..) a lot of thank you's from me, some photos (wow I looked old in them) and lots finger prints...by Detective Inspector of the Ghana CID (never had that done before). Anyway in about 2 weeks and for an $80 fee I should have a criminal record check complete. It's a bit different from the Canadian and British ones I've done before....

And to prove it I took a secret photo of the finger prints...(photos in the police station I don't think would have been flavour of the month!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

...anyone want a ride???

"I can't believe the stuff they carry on the trucks"...this was a light one, we saw one with double the height that this one had and it was gingerly passing along the highway with a trail of following vehicles looking on in unbelief....the other one here on the left, had these 2 men holding the charcoal bags on, since it was listing around the corners..... Never will I complain of traffic in the UK....

Then came the Togo border...absolute chaos, but....it worked, no scans, no screens, no searches, not even a computor. I walked straight upto the customs police table, put my passport down, he filled out his sheet, then asked a few questions, stamped it and moved me on....(remember I'm probably the only white man passing this border for the last few hours!)

Then we pass through the high security rope which is raised about 30cm from the ground to stop cars passing without authority! (I don't think so somehow)

And then we entered Togo...the country of motorbike taxis! If the Togolese all had cars and not bikes the country would grind to a halt.... no helmets, but then there were no lanes either, just a free for all! yeehaaa lets go.... So my colleague (Ghanaian Chief Business Officer) proceeded to see if we really could knock someone over, I mean these bikes must have some kind of force field which protects them...

..as we drove out of the border town, we picked up speed and then more speed...(single lane stuff) just a little more speed...about 90mph down the centre of the road and 50 minutes later we reached the Benin border...can you see my grey hair, or is it just falling out right now...cant tell the difference!!! Another border crossing, the only difference is it takes about 30 minutes longer here.... and then darkness. African roads in the dark....ouch. Some cars with no lights, (no street lamps by the way!) some cars with lights that they feel need to point towards the stars, like a batman beam...then the bikes! .. it looked at times like we were heading headlong into an oncoming vehicle with 10 lights in a row on the front, then they part around us as we pass through.....

...and on the return journey we look at the carnage of crashed vehicles we actually missed!!!

Glad to be back in safe and secure Ghana....

Monday, July 17, 2006

East through Togo and Benin ....24 hr trip..

....through the customs, roadblocks, extortion road blocks and yes you guessed all in French....by car aswell, so should fun.....

How do you see the beach.....

I spent a couple of hours this Saturday sitting on a the beach on an overcast day.....just watching beach life go by.....

The beach from this vantage point can seem quite daunting. This little one had a few problems passing over the sand with all its ups and downs....like life really, we have ups and downs....but this guy had his Dad's strong hand through the whole process.....that's what Dad's of all kinds are for ...... to be there when their children need them...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Time to stop and recharge for 10 minutes.....

We signed a framed contract this morning with the leading Ghana network operator...it took 6 consecutive meetings, but we got there...and this afternoon I just needed a 10 minute "all stop" recharge....the view from the 1st floor of the office balcony is one that in this afternoons cool breeze allowed me for a moment to unwind and think of how fast life has past me by this week..
  • Monday was this agreement work and negotiations we have just signed
  • Tuesday - up at dawn to fly. Then raced around Abidjan in the Ivory Coast
  • Wednesday - Back into negotiations on prices again...with todays client
  • Thursday - We were short listed on another Operator bid we are working on and had the first round of questions and answers session.
  • Friday - atlast! Signed the contract with handshakes all around.... time to take stock & review things. Opened my email... another bid request just landed in the "inbox" needs to be ready in 2 weeks.......

....the breeze today that blew across the balcony made the 10 minutes refreshing, as the bussle of traffic in the distance hummed and the KLM flight landed through the pillar and between the trees at Ghana's capital Kotoka Airport...it struck me how far from home I am, I'm in Africa... after all this time, another project, another project office, another set of outcomes to chase..... the secret is not to let the chase take over and keep control....just breath out!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

450 Deg Celcius at the Equator...

...so there I was dressed in my sports jacket in smart casual to meet clients...the temperature today was a hot breeze (felt like 40 deg C) .....I am racing back and for across Abidjan (Ivory Cost) between client locations in Nissan and Toyota taxies that are 10 times worse off than Trottors Trading 3 wheeler...even Del Boy would refuse to drive them....we get to a break in the day and make the decision to see a galvanising plant (the process to treat black steel so it does not rust. A process which involves acid baths and zinc baths, the later at 450 deg Celcius)

We drive to the port area of Abidjan, passing all the police road checks which extort cash from the general population, we made it through them all for free!....must have been the jacket!!! no one else would wear one in the heat and in the industrial area...except maybe an Englishman in the midday sun! ...maybe they felt I had paid my price being on a slow boil like I was in the jacket heat!

We pass through the smelliest land fill dump I can remember smelling recently (just after lunch...yuk), on through shanty and smelly fish factory area and round the back to a warehouse...now inside the warehouse, I was confronted with an increase in heat about double that I was already experiencing..... you know hot climate....etc.

The tour included the hydrochloric baths and then the zinc bath....95tonnes of zinc in the bath....I think I lost a few lbs from persperation just walking the 10 minutes tour..... and the end product looked like silver.......very shiny and very hot!

Monday, July 10, 2006

La Côte D'Ivoire demain....


Je vais demain à Abidjan pour voir que les nouveaux clients possibles et voit si nous pouvons établir un bureau régional dans la Côte d'ivoire. Le seul problème est que je dois vendre en français......aaarh

(I am going to Abidjan tomorrow to see possible new clients and to see if we can establish a regional office in the Ivory Coast. The only problem is I have to seel in French.....)

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Making an ORPHAN difference in life.....

OICI - Opportunities Industrialization Centers International

Click this link:
http://www.oicinternational.org/index.php?page=60

I heard of this great work this morning in KICC. The organisation knows all the orhanage needs in the regions. They are well placed and train those without the love of a Mum and Dad through an education process and life skills. Especially HIV/Aids children...imagine the heart ache of little ones without a mother's love!! BUT, they only can do it when children are sponsored to have schooling...

....a newspaper article this week here in Ghana celebrated an orphan who had been given enough to make the next step and now as an adult had achieved Chartered Accountant....


UPDATE: The orphanage beds I wrote about last month were purchased and someone even donated brand new sheets and covers for them - photos to follow.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

5 hours drive West......

Towns: Cape Coast - Sekondi - Takoradi

...I drove to visit an acquisition subcontractor and view some of the sites we're working on on Thursday and Friday..What a journey the road East - West trans Ghana is in parts like a "c" class UK road with giant pot holes that right off any unsuspecting suspension.


Along the route I experienced the usual Mini bus (called tro tro's) that pick up as many passengers they can complete with luggage and then drive like Alonso (Formula One) along the very same roads, while everyone else takes the challenge and decides to race..

...the countryside along the route is spectacularly green. Green with "Puff adders" "Cobra's" and "Pythons". The air through the villages wafts out a sweet smoke smell; this I am advised is the local dry gin being fermented - made from the sap of coconut trees is brewed to near 100% proof and then watered down...maybe that's what the mini bus drivers drink to give them nerves of steel to drive the way they do...


...near the Atlantic, the way is lined with tall palms which stand like gaurdians of the country...the towns are shanty, nothing else describes the western coast better than tin huts and old colonial buildings....


In all of the contrasts I saw and continue to see, one overiding impression strikes me - how much Ghanaians seem to have a disposition that is so resiliant they live today to eat tomorrow, even young children walking along the roadside (the same East-West road I'm driving on) with water buckets on their head for the home, bare footed, stripped to the waste......and washing their clothes in the roadside deep ponds.

...how much do we have? Really these impressions can't be easily conveyed on a blog...and then, through their black, black face comes a white smile and a shout from the children as the white man passes in his 4WD pickup (me) "Hey Bruni" translated "Hey Whiteman" - as I wave and smile back slowing enough for them to see, they jump and wave even more furiously back at me. ........thank you Ghana.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

I'm racing to an important client meeting and this happens.........

.....aarh, eveyone just goes where they want to go, no priorities, no give way, no lanes, no pavements, no drainage, just cars, trucks and bikes and traders. It didn'really resemble a junction, we could have just lifted up our boots and had a car sale! Great Idea....BUT I have a meeting to get to.....!!!! move everyone.

Learning the "way things are done" is an ongoing process, so 30 minutes late to a meeting doesn't stop you having the meeting, just makes it later. So it goes on, and as I live at a quick internal business pace, all around me is going one speed, that is the speed which is allowed, no quicker no slower, if traffic goes slow and if traffic goes fast, its the same......

And then I stopped on the way back to grab a snack and I saw this company which specialised in a certain kind of serious communication service.....


Monday, July 03, 2006

School in Ghana

Their uniforms are really great, they all rise, get to school for 8:00am and leave early afternoon. I pass loads of them near where I'm living in East Legon at the moment, all walking along the road. Here big sister is carrying her little bro's bag on her head.
Heads again, everyone in business, street trading has this gift or skill of carrying whatever they need on their heads...looks like the little guy here has a good deal, he's certainly looked after.